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Blending Extended writing Framing Knowledge Metaphor Philosophy of Science

What is not a metaphor: Modelling the world through language, thought, science, or action

The role of metaphor in science debate (Background) Recently, the LSE podcast an interesting panel on the subject of “Metaphors and Science”. It featured three speakers talking about the interface between metaphor and various ‘scientific’ disciplines (economics, physics and surgery). Unlike many such occasions, all speakers were actually very knowledgeable and thoughtful on the subject. […]

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Extended writing Framing Linguistics

Binders full of women with mighty pens: What is metonymy

Metonymy in the wild Things were not going well for Mitt Romney in early autumn of last year. And then he responded to a query about gender equality with this sentence: “I had the chance to pull together a cabinet, and all the applicants seemed to be men… I went to a number of women’s […]

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Education Extended writing History Language

Three books of the year 2013 and some books of the century 1900-2013

I have been asked (as every year) to nominate three books of the year for Lidové Noviny (a Czech paper I contribute to occasionally). This is always a tough choice for me and some years I don’t even bother responding. This is because I don’t tend to read books ‘of the moment’ and range widely […]

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Extended writing Framing Language Metaphor Philosophy of Science

Pervasiveness of Obliging Metaphors in Thought and Deed

“when history is at its most obliging, the history-writer needs be at his most wary.” (China by John Keay) I came across this nugget of wisdom when I was re-reading the Introduction to John Keay’s history of China. And it struck me that in some way this quote could be a part of the motto […]

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Extended writing Framing History Knowledge Language Metaphor Philosophy of Science

Cliches, information and metaphors: Overcoming prejudice with metahor hacking and getting it back again

“We have to use cliches,” said professor Abhijit Banerjee at the start of his LSE lecture on Poor Economics. “The world is just too complicated.” He continued. “Which is why it is all the more important, we choose the right cliches.” [I’m paraphrasing here.] This is an insight at the very heart of linguistics. Every […]

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Extended writing Metaphor

Character Assasination through Metaphoric Pomposity: When one metaphor is not enough

George Lakoff is known for saying that “metaphors can kill” and he’s not wrong. But in that, metaphors are no different from any other language. The simple amoral imperative “Kill!” will do the job just as nicely. Nor are metaphors any better or worse at obfuscating than any other type of language. But they are […]

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Metaphor Scholarship

RaAM 9 Abstract: Of Doves and Cocks: Collective Negotiation of a Metaphoric Seduction

Given how long I’ve been studying metaphor (at least since 1991 when I first encountered Lakoff and Johnson’s work and full on since 2000) it is amazing that I have yet to attend a RaAM (Researching and Applying Metaphor) conference. I had an abstract accepted to one of the previous RaAMs but couldn’t go. This […]

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Extended writing Knowledge Metaphor Religion

Religion, if it exists, is negotiation of underdetermined metaphoric cognition [UPDATED]

Preamble I am an old atheist and a new agnostic. I don’t believe in God in the old-fashioned Russellian way – if I don’t believe in Krishna, Zeus, water sprites or the little teapot orbiting the Sun, I don’t believe in God and the associated supernatual phenomena (monotheism my foot!). However, I am agnostic about […]

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Extended writing Knowledge Linguistics Metaphor Philosophy

The brain is a bad metaphor for language

Note: This was intended to be a brief note. Instead it developed into a monster post that took me two weeks of stolen moments to write. It’s very light on non-blog references but they exist. Nevertheless, it is still easy to find a number of oversimplifications,  conflations, and other imperfections below. The general thrust of […]

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Extended writing Linguistics

Why Chomsky doesn’t count as a gifted linguist

Somebody commented on the Language Log saying “of course […] Chomsky was a massively gifted linguist” http://j.mp/9Q98Bx and for some reason, to use a Czech idiom, the handle of the jar repeatedly used to fetch water just fell off. Meaning, I’ve had enough. I think we should stop thinking of Chomsky as a gifted linguist. […]